Two Queensland sisters set to make their fashion show debut at this year’s historic, 10th anniversary Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane are taking on the big boys in swimwear fashion and design – and winning.
Simone Wilkins, 23, and Carly Wilkins, 30, (pictured) who split their time between their native Gold Coast and Bali, have been busily growing successful swimwear label Eau Paix Vie (EPV) since 2011.
And success has been swift; their quirky, colourful, fun and fresh swimwear label, which sells exclusively online via their website, has already caught the eye of countless A-list celebrities. Models-of-the-moment, TV personality Kendall Jenner, fellow swimwear designer Sahara Ray, new face of Seafolly Gigi Hadid and Victoria’s Secret hotbod Maud Welzen have already proudly donned EPV Swimwear designs.
Eau Paix Vie, which means “water, peace and life” in French, was thus named by the sisters because the words perfectly encapsulate what their label is all about: a fun approach to swimwear and life. And the Wilkins sisters’ signature, cheeky-cut and two-tone bottoms (pictured) have set them apart from the competitors, scoring them legions of young fashion fans and social media followers – not to mention the patronage of the aforementioned supermodels – in the process.
“We wanted to combine three simple words that represented our label, and added the French twist to capture an element of the love and inspiration we gain from travel,” says Carly, who spoke to me from the US, just prior to her getting on a plane to come home to Australia.
“Our travels inspire us a lot; we love keeping busy and exploring new places around the world and their respective people, cultures and environments. We like to keep the designs fun to reflect the carefree, happy vibe that we endeavour to represent.”
With some of the world’s hottest models proudly wearing their designs, you’d think the sisters would be fashion show veterans, but not so – they’ll be making their label debut at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane NEXT Hotel Next Gen Group Show on Wednesday, August 26 at 8.30pm.
“Seeing celebrities wear our swimwear is great, but we really take a lot from and appreciate everyday girls tagging us on their holiday pictures and the kind emails that we receive – it’s the small successes like that each day that contribute to great success,” Carly says.
“We are very excited to be taking part in MBFF as it’s our first fashion show and it’s close to our Australian base, as well as being the 10th anniversary of the event. We are thrilled to be a part of such a fun show and for people to see what we have been working on and just to experience the event.”
And given hot swimwear is a huge draw-card at the fashion festival, EPV is sure to attract plenty of attention, says Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane director Lindsay Bennett.
“It is always exciting to see next gen designers on the runway each year, as they bring fresh ideas and aesthetics,” Lindsay says. “The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane is all about supporting local fashion talent and nurturing up-and-coming designers and we are proud to give them a platform to showcase their collections. Swimwear is certainly something Queensland is renowned for so we are looking forward to seeing Eau Paix Vie Swimwear’s bright and colourful collection!
“From what we have seen so far, Eau Paix Vie offers a great range of swimwear cuts, prints and unique colour combinations – it all evokes days at the beach and amazing Queensland summers and we look forward to seeing more from them on the runway. We can see many fashion lovers snapping up their swimwear this summer.”
Prior to launching EPV, Carly had two degrees under her belt and was studying a Masters in Criminal Analysis, while Simone was working in fashion retail. And despite their lack of formal fashion training, both young women put everything on the line to launch their dream job. While EPV’s designing is done primarily in Australia, it’s made using the highest quality Italian fabrics, with the manufacturing process completed in Indonesia.
“Simone had recently returned to Australia from travelling in Europe and I had returned from living in Asia. We decided we should just take the risk and do it!” Carly says. “It did take a lot of time to refine everything – an ever-evolving and continuing process – we just started at bottom and continued to work to create the label we have today.”
And while the sisters have different roles in their business – Carly is the business brain, while Simone is the design and creative end – the sisters share a clear vision for a successful swimwear label with an office in their beloved New York City. But like any emerging business brand, they’ve suffered some highs and lows along their path to success.
“As sisters, it can sometimes be trying [working together],” Carly says. “But we get to do something we love and we can work from anywhere in the world! We are passionate about what we do and I think that shows a lot on our brand. The worst part is probably the unpredictability of it all – which designs will be popular and which may not be – translating to what sells and what doesn’t.
“We signed on with a big PR company out of the US which just didn’t work out for us the way we had anticipated. I wouldn’t say that was a big mistake, as you learn and grow from everything, and it’s all an experience.”
The sisters’ favourite fashion brands include Free People, Planet Blue, Nike and fellow Aussie label One Teaspoon. And at the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival Brisbane – staged at the John Reid Pavilion at the Brisbane Showgrounds from August 23-28 –they’ll have the pleasure of showing alongside other rising stars including Peony Swimwear, Kabel Apparel, Roux May and more.
And in news just in, Myer is bringing The Face of Myer, Jennifer Hawkins, to walk the runway alongside Myer Ambassador, Kris Smith, in celebration of the event’s milestone 10th anniversary. For the full program, details and bookings, visit www.mbff.com.au.
We caught up with our latest We Are Handsome X New Caledonia string bikini winner, Penny Robertson (pictured), who was “absolutely delighted” upon receiving her prize pack last week. As she prepares to hit the beaches in Queensland, we found out just how easy the competition process was for her.
How did you find out about the competition?
I found out about the competition in a SHESAID email [newsletter].
After signing up, did you share the comp with your friends and family?
I’m sorry, but I can’t remember if I shared the competition… Sorry!
What was going through your mind when you were signing up?
I was a little dubious signing up… Didn’t want to get caught in a long-winded competition process.
What would have initially made you feel more ease at during the signup process?
Let us know that we won’t be caught up in a spam nightmare!
We also noticed that you’ve since signed up to receive extra offers from our advertisers, have you received any exciting deals from them?
I’m on a disability pension, so I haven’t spent any money on any offers (very broke… but that’s life!).
What are your thoughts on winning the swimwear?
Absolutely delighted – so wrapped! I live in Brisbane and spend many months wearing bikinis – thank you.
Will you join another competition again after winning this amazing prize?
Certainly will enter more competitions.
If you don’t have a sarong or two you are seriously missing out! Men and women throughout the tropics wear little else and once you get the hang of them you’ll understand the attraction. The fabric is cool and flowing, which is perfect for warm weather and provides flexibility to style them as dresses, short or long skirts, shorts, swimwear cover ups, scarfs, headbands and even turbans. Plus, packing a sarong or two into a suitcase can save travelers big bucks on excess luggage.
To add to the attraction, size isn’t a factor. The humble sarong suits any body shape. They are perfect if you’re pregnant or dieting because they adapt to whatever shape you are and breastfeeding mums can use them as a light throw over during feeding in public.
The main reason why people shy away from them is tying them. Unless you’ve been shown some sort of technique they can be a bit tricky. Additionally, there’s the fear that they will suddenly drop off in public leaving you exposed and stranded in your underwear! In reality, sarongs are actually a lot easier to tie and wear than many people anticipate. It won’t take you long to master and get creative, taking full advantage of their versatility.
There are heaps of video on-line which will show you how to tie sarongs for various uses. So, instead of providing a step by step guide for each style, I’d like to provide the basics so you can tie them anyway you like and get inspired.
The easiest way to tie a traditional flat sarong is by using the material itself. The fabric is usually fine, so it twists and manipulates nicely. There’s no right way up either and the way you use it will depend on the size of the sarong and your body. If it’s too long just fold it. With a little more experience you can make shorts, mini skirts or dresses.
For basic use, imagine the sarong is a bath towel and position it as you would when you jump out of the shower and begin drying yourself. You should have hold of two ends, just like a towel. Position it at shoulder or waist height behind you, depending on what you want to cover.
Bring together the two ends you have held and tie them in front of you or to the side. There will be excess fabric and the amount will depend on the sarong and your body size. Position this to suit your situation. For example, if it’s for a swimwear cover up you can let it be more revealing than you would for everyday use.
The image below will help you get a little more inspiration and show you the versatility of a single sarong.
Ways to style a sarong
A. The wrap skirt. B. Mini skirt. C. Wrap dress. D. Swim wear wrap. E. Mini dress. F. Halter dress. G. Shorts. H. Shirt
There’s also the option of tying your sarong with purpose made buckles (pictured). There’s a huge variety on offer or you can use your imagination, get creative and discover what works for you. Bangles are an option for some styles as well as adding beads or long hanging accessories.
These purpose made buckles are perfect for use with tube sarongs. They are just as the name implies. Instead of being a traditional flat piece of fabric, the tube sarong is sewn so it resembles a tube (pictured). If you have a tube sarong, using a buckle can be a little easier than gathering the fabric to make a stead fast tie which tend to slip due to lack of fabric. You can also fold them in half to produce a shorter skirt or dress.
Although tube sarongs are less versatile, they are still a very popular option for use away from the water. The attraction being that they tend to be less reveling. If you want to wear a traditional sarong away from the water and are deterred by the possibility of it blowing open, add a couple of large well placed safety pins to the inner side after tying it. This will hide the pins and keep your sarong in position.
Sarongs have also become a popular option for weddings in warmer climates. Prices start from around $25 and go up to around $200-$300. Regardless of the price, their versatility makes them worth every cent. They are addictive, so after purchasing your first one, don’t be surprised if you find yourself hunting for more!
Images via images0.zurnal24.si, curiousdesigns.com, swimweargalore.com.au, ecx.images-amazon.com
One of Australia’s most interesting swimwear and apparel designers, Mosmann Underwear is seriously making waves (in all senses of the word) on both a domestic and international level. The Australian swimwear and apparel brand is known best for their trendy swim shorts which offer maximum relaxation and practicality – while still looking good.
Boasting a large selection of both mens and womens swimsuits and apparel, Mosmann Australia has gained a strong audience for it’s innovation and trendy designs.
Mosmann Australia started off with four friends carrying a special selection of mens underwear, which looks good, feels good, and most importantly reflects the relaxed yet sophisticated Australian lifestyle.
As a result of their ongoing success, the crew introduced a large selection of mens and womens underwear and apparel, which followed the same design ethos. With offices popping up in the United Kingdom, France, Brazil, USA, and Japan just to name a few, Mosmann Australia has become well known for their quality design and the ability to look and feel good in any garment.
You can shop the collection exclusively online, and enjoy free worldwide shipping on purchases over AU$49.
From whimsical paintings and large-scale drawings to swimwear design, Perth’s Sara Winfield is one to watch. Here, the emerging artist-turned-swimwear-designer (pictured below), who founded her eponymous swimwear label this year, shares her design inspiration and summer swimwear tips with SHESAID readers, see below.
But first, some background: modern and sophisticated with illustrative prints as its signature, the Sara Winfield label is aimed at striking a balance between creative art and classical and considered design and minimalism.
Entranced with line and colour in her art works, and renowned for her pastel-hued, fantastical beings, Sara is a young gun Australian fashion designer who’s been fortunate and talented enough to combine her two great loves of art and fashion design.
Since founding her art label in 2012, Sara’s held two solo exhibitions, a joint show with artist Anya Brock, received a commission at 140Perth and created artwork for model and interiors blogger Rebecca Judd.
Sara Winfield’s swimwear is available via the label’s e-boutique and select stockists nationally. Visit www.sarawinfield.com for more information.
In addition, Sara’s artworks and prints are available through commission or her online store – www.sarawinfield.bigcartel.com – with exhibitions planned for late 2014.
What’s your greatest love: art or fashion? Easy answer: art!
Who is your core customer? My core customer for both art and swimwear are generally people interested in design-based products who want something that makes a statement and is current.
What sets your swimwear apart? From first impressions, definitely the original, placement printing on my swimwear. But the process of creating those prints comes from a design process which I feel some labels avoid. I prefer to create a story of prints rather than just using stripes because they sell.
What should a customer look for in a good swimwear fit? A well-fitted swimsuit or bikini should make you want to ask someone for their opinion, not hide behind the change room door! It should make you feel confident, sexy and accentuate your assets.
Which body shapes are best suited to your latest swimwear styles? A small-busted girl! Being my debut collection (pictured below), I didn’t delve too far into swimwear that doubles as a booster, sucker, lose-10kg-underwear set! So, the tops are more suited to those with an A-C cup. I am definitely looking into styles that suit more shapes next season.
What’s best about designing swimwear? Definitely, getting your samples back. Working away on a laptop for hours upon end is so worthwhile when you get a physical product back in your hands. It just makes you think: “I made this!” – which is an awesome feeling.
What’s hardest? This first year has been hard because I’ve had to learn so much by myself. The actual designing of swimwear I find very simple! I could do four collections a year if it weren’t for all the “business” side of things!
What inspires you? My biggest inspiration is the outdoors. Natural things like plants, animals and landscapes. My mum always said that “nature always gets it right.” Other than that, I create a lot of mood boards – colour is very important to me!
What other swimwear brands or designers do you admire? Obviously, Zimmermann, because both their swimwear and ready-to-wear are just incredible! I love Isabel Marant too, because who doesn’t? And ACACIA Swimwear because they’re so humble and sweet, yet amazing businesswomen!
What’s your burning ambition? I have given up trying to work out what “the end goal is.” I already know my mind is a busy place and I move on from projects or ideas quickly.
What are you currently working on? My spring/summer 2015 swim collection! Also, an exhibition of 20 or so paintings and dealing with a 10-week-old kelpie puppy.
Here at SHESAID we love nothing more than to support up-and-coming Australian talent, and designers are always at the top of our list. Whether it’s bridal couture gowns, jewellery or even underwear, these collections are always sourced from high-quality materials are and unique in their own particular fields. Keep an eye out for the following six Australian designers who are making waves here and on an international level.
Leah Da Gloria
Soon after graduating from the Sydney Institute of Design in 2007, Leah Da Gloria has been working diligently within the fashion industry before launching her own self-titled bridal label in 2012. Most recently, Leah had the oppourtunity through Fashion Palette to show her latest collection at NYFW.
You may have already heard about Jason Alton since his debut into the Australian fashion scene with the remarkable success of Nudie Jeans. Now Jason has turned his passion onto luxury inverted diamond rings, with a flagship store opening in Gould, St Bondi very soon.
Melbourne-based fashion designer Michelle Aznavorian launched her label Misha Collection which aims to offer high-end silhouettes at affordable prices. Much-loved by celebrities such as Maria Menounos and Nikki Phillips, the collections are also adored by bloggers and fashion enthusiasts worldwide.
Perth-based label Salasai is known for it’s soft tailoring and funky, bold prints. Head designers Kirsha Whitcher and Kelly Watson create unisex pieces which are easy to wear, and are very innovative – perfect for consumers who want to make the most of their pieces.
Lead designer Pat Georgiou aims to create every girls dream dress – using streamlined production methods which results in high-end products at an affordable price point. Lexi’s collection of items flatter the female form, and help incorporate some of her vintage designs with a modern twist.
Travelling all over the world gave designer Rik Van Donk a flair for detail, and quickly made him realise the essential products a globetrotting man would require for an overseas trip. All swim shorts are easy to store, quick drying and are available in two different lengths.
Images via Call Me Mimi, Accessory Agenda
Want to make your next bikini or bathing suit really pop? Sometimes it can all come down to picking the shape, style and colour which flatters your assets the most. Since there are so many styles out there to choose from, read-up on our guide to choose the best one for you and your body shape.
A typical hourglass shape is defined by a cinched waist and more shapely hips and legs. Why not try a string bikini? The style will flatter both the top and lower part of your body by drawing attention to the stomach, back and legs. The strings work to elongate the legs and give the illusion of a slimmer and taller physique. Stay away from boy-shorts or larger bottoms since these will only make an hourglass look wider.
With other famous pears such as Jennifer Lopez and Eva Mendes, this body shape is widely recognised by a small chest and tiny waist which is often smaller than the hips. The key is to draw attention to the upper body by wearing embellished pieces or patterns. For bottoms, choose full briefs equipped with a string at the waist which are darker, since they will balance out your shape. Stay away from halter-neck tops which will only make the bust and upper body look smaller and less proportioned to the bottom half.
Apples are known for their full bust, undefined waist and often slimmer legs. All the weight is usually carried on the upper part of the body, mostly in the bust. Tankini’s are a great option for hiding any insecurities such as a troublesome middle section or an undefined waist. They are basically long shirts with a spaghetti-strap or a halter neck which flatters a large bust. As for a bikini bottom, choose a style with ruffles or extra material since this will draw attention to the lower half of the body such as slimmer legs. Stay away from bandeau styles which will only make the bust look more pronounced.
This body shape is often very petite all over, and with little or no curves. Signature characteristics include a small bust, hips, legs and waist. The interesting part about the ruler is that they can wear almost any bikini or bathing suit and it will flatter their body. If you do wish to create the illusion of a curvier figure, choose a style with specific details or high-waisted bottoms which will automatically become the focal point of the entire look.
The full figure
Finally, the full figure mostly consists of a bigger bust, curvy hips with round legs and thighs. Very similar to the hourglass, although does not have quite a defined or tiny waist. Halter-neck or V-neck one pieces are a great option since they are designed to flatter a fuller figure, offer support to the bust and give the illusion of a smaller waist. Stay away from boy-shorts, and detailing such as ruffles and patterns since this will only emphasise the hips more than any other body part.
Image via Fit Sugar
TALULAH presented its new Swim & Resort Crystal Tropics collection at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia in Sydney. Show guests watched in delight as TALULAH runway team lead by creative director Kelli Wharton, showcased the new collection in a colourful parade of spring brights, elegant prints and tropical theatrics.
See the gallery here.
Hosting high profile guests including Australian actress Demi Harman from Home and Away, Layne Beachley and Kirk Pengilly, Sydney Fashion Blogger Antoinette Marie, Nikki Phillips of Styled By Phillips Blog, reality TV star Tully Smyth and General Pants creative director Pip Edwards, alongside leading retailers David Jones, ASOS, and House Of Fraser.
The spring/summer collection by Wharton came alive in a sensory overload of theatrical props, floor to ceiling printed wallpaper and exotic florals – with set design by Sarah Ellison, Interior Stylist and Real Living Style Editor and show stylist Jesse Hart.
The key spring looks of the upcoming season were highlighted with bronzed beauty features and beach swept hair by show partners Bobbi Brown, Alter Ego Italy and Essie polish. The showcase will be TALULAH’s fourth catwalk parade at Mercedes Benz fashion Week Australia, leading the designer brand into its 10th year of operation, with designs headed by TALULAH creative Director Kelli Wharton.
Showcased at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia 2014, the Crystal Tropics collection comprises of over 150 TALULAH pieces, celebrating TALULAH print, colour and creativity in a modern bohemian story to lead the designer brand into its 10th anniversary year. Designed for exotic vacations and spring oceanside escapes, silhouettes are soft and feminine, juxtaposed with strong graphics, detailed finishes and silk fabrics to instil confidence in its wearer.
The collection will be available from July at David Jones departments stores, selected specialty boutiques and online at talulah.com.au.
Does anyone actually enjoy shopping for swimwear? The unflattering changing room mirrors, the images of bikini-bearing supermodels planted on the walls of every swimwear store and the bright shop lights that highlight every lump and bump have an uncanny ability to make us want to run away from the shops and wear last year’s unflattering cossie.
Katherine Hancock, founder and designer of popular swimwear brand Ebony Louise, says “every woman can look beautiful and feel great with the right swimwear”, so follow her tips on how to choose the right swimwear for your body shape.
Women with pear-shaped bodies exhibit hips significantly wider than both their waist and bust. Draw attention away from a bottom-heavy figure with an empire-line swimsuit or a two-piece with a printed top half and generous block colour bottoms. “This will slim the bottom half of your body and create interest around the top half,” says Katherine.
Women who have apple-shaped bodies will have a waist substantially wider than their hips, and equal to or nearly as wide as their bust. “Skip the skimpy bikini and opt for a flattering one piece,” said Katherine. A one piece swimsuit will balance everything out, especially if it’s a single block colour.
An hourglass shape refers to those women that have a waist smaller than both their bust and hips. If you are one of these lucky women, you can pretty much wear anything and it will look flattering! “A sexy bikini will show off and accentuate your curves”.
Straight shaped women have bodies that are essentially the same width from the chest to hips, with minimal curve. It is recommended that women with straight body shapes opt for swimsuits with lots of detail such as pretty patterns, ruffles or ties. “Patterns and added features like ruffles create the illusion of curves,” Katherine says.
Of course, you should wear the swimsuit that you feel most comfortable in. Katherine’s mantra is: “Confidence goes a long way – if a woman is confident in her swimwear, she will always look flawless.”
Bikini? One-piece? Tankini? What’s your favourite swimwear style?